The Baltimore Orioles have reportedly reached out to former starting pitchers Chris Tillman and Wade Miley about a potential return to the organization.
The Baltimore Orioles have reportedly reached out to former starting pitcher Chris Tillman and Wade Miley about a potential return to the organization, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.
Both Tillman and Miley are set to be free agents this offseason. The Baltimore Orioles have a $12 million team option on Miley and will have until five days after the end of the World Series to decide whether or not to exercise it or give Miley a $500,000 buyout, but Encina reports that the team is expected to buy Miley out.
Miley came to the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline of the 2016 season, when the Seattle Mariners sent him to Baltimore for starting pitcher Ariel Miranda. Since joining the Orioles after that trade, Miley has gone 10-20 and put up a 5.75 ERA with an 8.39 K/9 over 211.1 innings pitched.
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Since joining the Orioles as a fairly regular starting pitcher through last season, Tillman had been fairly solid, going 68-38 and putting up a 3.93 ERA with a 6.96 K/9 over 906.2 innings pitched, including three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014 with an ERA under 4.00.
But everything went way downhill last season, as he went 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA over 93 innings pitched after coming back from a shoulder injury.
In my opinion, bringing back Miley and Tillman is not what the Orioles starting rotation needs. Yes, they need starting pitchers, but Miley hasn’t had an ERA below 4.34 since his 2013 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and since joining the American League, it’s been consistently over 5.00.
Yes, he’s a lefty, and the Baltimore Orioles rotation as it stands right now is devoid of a left-handed pitcher, but Miley is going to do nothing but give up runs, he is not what the team needs.
Tillman might be interesting as a potential minor league deal, but I’m worried that his shoulder injury has messed up his mechanics past a point that he can recover. All of last season, his arm angle had dropped significantly compared to the rest of his career, as you can see on this chart:
That’s lost him movement on his curveball, which is his putaway pitch, and without an effective curveball, the rest of his arsenal isn’t all that impressive.
Tillman insisted that he was healthy last season and that his shoulder wasn’t bothering him, and if that’s the case, then I’m even more worried because if he was hurt, that could easily explain away his dropped arm angle. But if he’s throwing the ball at that low of an angle and he’s healthy? Then the injury has messed him up potentially beyond a point of no return.
There aren’t many viable free agent starting pitchers that will be out there for the Baltimore Orioles to pursue. They more than likely won’t be in on big-name guys like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish, and pitchers like Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, John Lackey, and Alex Cobb (among others) all sound somewhat interesting, but all come with their own problems.
Regardless, they and other current free agents would be much more useful to the Baltimore Orioles than a return of Wade Miley, and potentially of Chris Tillman. I’m ok with Tillman coming back if he’s able to fix his arm angle, but if he isn’t, last year will prove to be less of an outlier and more of what’s to come.